By Teresa Mercer, Youth First School Social Worker, Courier & Press, 1/6/2015
Happy New Year! For many people a brand new year brings resolutions. While some resolutions may be broken before Valentine’s Day, many will produce positive changes that will last.
Many will challenge themselves with resolutions that involve exercise, eating healthier, losing weight, spending less, etc. Many seem to focus on doing more or less of something and hopefully all are meant to make us better individuals or make a positive impact on someone else. I will focus on resolving to become a more positive person.
I’ve noticed over the years that when someone is generally smiling or cheerful some may wonder, “How can anyone be that happy?” These cheerful people have the same struggles, challenges and stressors we all do; however, I believe they choose to look at life differently.
It’s always a challenge to change the way you think and do things. Old habits die hard, but the following 12 steps may significantly improve your mental health and help you become a more positive person.
1. Focus on your positive traits and qualities. Some examples include kindness, politeness, creativity, spirituality and honesty. It’s important to recognize your special and unique qualities. If you don’t see the good in yourself, how can you see the good in others?
2. Write a list of what you value most. You might list achievements, close relationships, adventure, community, integrity, family, self-respect, truth, etc. After making your list, check to see if you are living these values or just giving them lip service. It makes us feel better when we have some meaning in our lives, and others will notice too.
3. Set some realistic goals. Develop short and long term goals — daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Work to achieve them, and if you don’t achieve them, don’t beat yourself up. Reaching goals will increase self-confidence and life satisfaction.
4. Take time for self-care. Do something for yourself every day even if it’s only for a minute.
5. Associate with others who are positive. Misery loves company, and while it’s easier to focus on the negatives in life, complaining all the time doesn’t help anything.
6. Challenge yourself to say only positive things for one day. See if you notice a difference in your mood.
7. Plan a gripe session. Meet with a family member or friend, set a time limit and air your frustrations. Stop at the designated time, and then air no more complaints for the rest of the day.
8. Write down what you’re grateful for. Every night make a list of things that went well or things you were grateful for during the day. This helps develop appreciation for the small things.
9. Set limits with yourself and others. It’s OK to say no.
10. Have fun and do things you enjoy.
11. Try complimenting three people every day. Everyone likes compliments, and you will brighten someone’s day.
12. Most importantly, laugh. Laughing is healthy, healing and does a lot for us emotionally and mentally. Be with others who like to laugh. It really is the best medicine.
Wishing you a great New Year and lots of good mental health.